There has never been a publishing company solely dedicated to creating timeless children stories that feature African-American and Latino characters, written by African-American and Latino authors for a company created and run by an African-American woman. But that’s about to change.
Take note of the name Donna Beasley because the Chicago-based founder and president of KaZoom Digital Publishing and KaZoom Kids iStory Books has launched her subscription-based venture and like many inventions, that have revolutionized the world, it was born out of sheer frustration.
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Unable to find a book that her six-year-old African-American niece could relate to and enjoy, Beasley decided to do something to change that and developed the platform inside the 1871 WiStem tech business training program.
KaZoom Digital Publishing’s mission is to bring greater diversity to children's literature by creating books for the community, by the community. And “by community,” Beasley means the African, African-American and Hispanic communities; the authors of these modern stories are written and illustrated by those who share the same cultural thread.
In creating this interactive children’s book company, Beasley is venturing into an untapped but lucrative market. This could transform her into a wealthy woman, but success isn’t always measured solely in monetary terms.
“These books — that depict the multi-cultural experience — offer kids of color an opportunity to see themselves reflected positively,” Beasley said. “Our mission is to bring greater diversity to children’s literature. Our books will engage a child with read-along audio, sound, music, touch and animation.”
Each carefully chosen title is filled with whimsical characters and bright illustrations that delight, fascinate, but also touch on multiculturally sensitive issues like black hair and single parenting. Other stories chronicle inspiring tales of successes. Added Beasley, “If you are an African-American or Latino mother of young children you can seldom find children’s book that reflect your life, family and community.”
She further notes, “There is a void in the publishing industry for multicultural children’s books. It is a startling fact that in 2014 only 5% of children's literature included children of color. Yet our public school systems serve 40% black and Latino students. This is a similar demographic in urban centers nationwide.”
KaZoom Kids iStory Books, a division of KaZoom Digital Publishing, feature ebooks for children ages three to eight and, with the KaZoom Kids iStory App, each child can read the story or have the story read to them via the touch screen with words highlighted for the read-along option.
Beasley’s strong reputation in the field of advertising, marketing and publishing led her to connect with Chicago’s creative community who helped her build the first selection of books available in the KaZoom Digital Publishing and KaZoom Kids iStory Books’ library.
Noted Beasley, “Writers, illustrators and book designers of all ages and ability levels answered the call to make a difference in the diversity of children’s books. Over half of our ibooks are by first time authors. We take great pride in opening up this industry to new and diverse talent. Our goal is to make these books entertaining and enriching for our young readers. We are absolutely thrilled and delighted about this product launch. We believe every child should see themselves and their community in a book. Our books help children grow up proud.”
To learn more about KaZoom Digital Publishing and KaZoom Kids iStory Books subscription go to: wwww.kazoomkidsbooks.com.